Chad BehnJesse GreenJosh DyerTodd Rasmussen

Four Republicans vying to succeed Behn

By BRANDON HURLEY

b.hurley@beeherald.com

Change is in order for the first time in two-and-a-half decades as candidates vie for an open seat in Iowa Senate District 24.

Republican Jerry Behn, Iowa’s longest-serving senator, who represents Greene and Boone counties, is resigning his seat after six terms. The father of two was elected to the Iowa Senate in 1996 after serving on the Boone County board of supervisors.

A Republican primary is set for June 2 to determine the party’s representative in the Nov. 3 general election.

Four candidates are vying for the open seat.

Absentee ballots were sent out to every registered voter April 23, which included prepaid return postage. The ballots should be arriving this week, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said. He strongly urges residents to cast absentee ballots instead of in-person voting to help curtail the spread of COVID-19.

“Absentee voting from home is safe and secure, and this is the best way to participate in the June primary election,” Pate said in a press release. “We have measures in place to ensure the integrity of the ballot while maintaining social distancing. I encourage all eligible Iowans who want to vote in the primary to use the absentee method.”

The four Republican candidates recently responded to questions from The Jefferson Herald.

 

Josh Dyer

Age: 27 

Residence: Jefferson

Family: Wife, Emily Dyer

Previous political experience: None beyond student government in college and volunteering for Republican campaigns

Education: Iowa State University (history and political science), University of Northern Iowa (secondary education)

Profession: Government and economics teacher

 

Q: Why are you running for the state Senate? 

Dyer: I have always paid attention to politics and appreciated the impact that those serving in office can make in their communities and across the state. With the retirement of the current senator, I saw an opportunity for myself to provide Iowans in District 24 with a fresh, young, conservative perspective. 

Q: What issues do you plan to address if you win the election? 

A: I would continue the fight to restrict abortions in the state of Iowa, protecting those who cannot protect themselves, as well as defending the gun rights of law-abiding citizens in the state. 

I would address health care by fighting to increase access to physical and mental health services for those living in rural Iowa. It is difficult to bring young families to rural Iowa, or to maintain an aging population, if they regularly are spending hours on the road to receive care. 

I would push to ensure our children are being given every opportunity in their K-12 education. 

We have had historic unemployment in the state of Iowa with many employers going above and beyond to fill positions. We need to make sure students are being exposed to these opportunities for employment that are in demand right now, right here in the state of Iowa. 

I would also like to continue to work towards bringing reliable high-speed internet to rural Iowans. In order to compete in today’s world, our businesses large and small, farm operations, and schools in rural Iowa need access to reliable, high-speed internet. 

The current crisis brought this issue to the forefront as many employees struggled to work from home and students struggled to learn from home. 

I also would like to be involved in continuing to support veterans in their transition back to civilian life and their physical and mental health needs. With ongoing conflicts spanning nearly two decades in the Middle East, there are many veterans among us. However, because these conflicts have gone on so long it seems they, and the people who served in them, are not given the attention they deserve. 

Lastly, I would also do what I could at the state level to ensure our farmers and the agriculture industry are able to thrive in the state of Iowa, as they are the backbone of our rural Iowa economy. With the current situations globally, our farmers, locally, are hitting hard times, and we as a state need to back them up. 

Q: Why do you consider yourself the best candidate for the job? 

A: I am young, educated and motivated to make a positive impact on the lives of others. 

I have studied at the college level and now teach at the high school level the history of our great country and our government system. I would bring a fresh perspective to the Iowa Senate and the energy and drive to get things done. 

 

 

Chad Behn

Age: 42

Family: Two sons

Current profession: Farmer

Previous political experience: Boone County supervisor 

Education: Four-year degree in communications 

 

Q: Why are you running?

Behn: I am running to keep momentum in the caucus of the Iowa Senate. The last couple of sessions they have taken a strong lead on major issues. Process of appointing judges, heartbeat bill, tax cuts and chapter 20 are some of the few that this Senate has taken on. 

Jobs bring or keep people in this great state and I have two boys coming up through the process and want them to be able to stay in the state.

Q: What issues do you plan to address if you win?

A: Tax reform is number one. 

I want the tax climate to be such that businesses want to come without an incentive handed out by the taxpayers. Also, Educational Savings Accounts are big. Giving the students the option would create a competition with the schools and thus improving all education.  

Q: Why do you consider yourself the best candidate?

A: I am currently a Boone County supervisor and I believe that experience sets me apart. There is a daily grind when it comes to taxes. It is in the background of almost all of your decisions. 

As supervisors, we have been able to flat line tax asking for three years and did a 2 percent increase this last year. We are in the bottom 10 percent in the state for asking. Also, with that experience, I think it gives me unique perspective on local control down at the state.  

Q: What have you, son of current state Sen. Jerry Behn, learned from him?

A: (I’ve learned) how to be most effective when it comes to getting things done. There is no doubt having a bold plan is key, but being able to get it implemented is something different. One needs 26 votes to get the idea in place. The House and governor are yet to come to become law. 

The caucus is where the magic happens in the Senate. 

In our discussions over the years focusing on not only the issues but how to actually get the best possible deal done that is able to make it to law. That is clearly where his experience and walking me though those situations will help me be a better legislator. 

 

Jesse Green

Age: 35  

Residence: Harcourt

Family: Single, no kids 

Previous political experience: Elected positions on volunteer boards; no formal political experience  

Occupation: Farms with family; teaches Bible classes and volunteers at Community Christian School in Fort Dodge 

Education: Southeast Webster High School; studying online through Emmaus Bible College and Iowa Central Community College

 

Q: Why are you running for the Iowa Senate?

Green: When I was first asked to consider running, I had not given it much thought, but the abilities and positive role I could bring to our Senate district weighed heavily on me, and I could not get the choice off my mind. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I have been uniquely shaped for public service.  

My whole life has shaped me for this opportunity. 

From my days of serving and being active in 4-H, serving at church soup suppers, picking up pop cans in ditches, working concession stands at the Dayton Rodeo, and being active in childhood fundraisers for my private school. After high school, I stayed home and didn’t attend college in order to help farm and care for my grandmother, as her health was failing.  

In my 20s, I focused on getting further established on my family farm. Later in my 20s, I became active on the Webster County Farm Bureau board. At the age of 28, I became the youngest chairman in Dayton Rodeo history, which spans over 80 years.  After six years of service to the organization, I decided to start taking online classes through Emmaus Bible College in Dubuque and began to teach Bible classes at Community Christian School in Fort Dodge. 

I was a Top 10 Under 40 professional recipient in 2017 from the Fort Dodge Messenger and Fort Dodge Greater Growth Alliance. Also, I am a supporter for Iowa to be a constitution carry state and I am pro-life.

Now that this Iowa Senate seat is open, we need a true public servant in this role. One who will be committed to the needs of current and future generations of Iowans and a strong, fair and fresh voice for our neighbors in District 24. 

I believe I am the right candidate for this job.

 

Q: What issues do you plan to address?

A: I will have the attitude of scrutinizing every dollar spent thoroughly.

I will be the fresh, bold voice needed to strengthen the pro-life platform. We must allow voters the opportunity to voice their opinion. When this happens, I believe there will be a new constitutional amendment that truly reflect the values of the majority of Iowans.

I will bring the fresh, bold voice needed to better the quality of education. This is a broad topic that every candidate talks about, but they don’t provide many specific answers. I have seen and experienced every schooling environment possible in Iowa, and based on that knowledge, I believe we need to lower class sizes for younger students. This may require a combination of hiring more teachers and providing more school choice, but whatever it takes must be done. We can do a better job in raising the standard for education and our youth so they can have a happy, fruitful life.  

I will bring the fresh, bold voice needed to make Iowa a constitutional carry state. If gun shop owners and people want to resume issuing permits to carry, I would support that as well so that our citizens can travel to other states without fear of violating laws. Fundamentally, we need to make it clear how Iowa stands on gun rights.

I will bring the fresh, bold voice needed to improve the quality of life for rural Iowa. If we want to attract and keep future talent, we must seek solutions that bring vibrancy and attract growth to our communities, big and small. This may mean improvements or more options for people to enjoy the outdoors and entertainment, while encouraging a business-friendly culture. 

I will bring the fresh, bold voice that is needed to help bring solutions for keeping young Iowans engaged in agriculture. I believe this topic goes hand-in-hand with conservation initiatives, and future stability for our small-town economies.  

I will bring the fresh, bold voice needed to lower the corporate tax rate. We need to stop having to bribe companies to come to Iowa and focus instead on making our rates competitive with the rest of the Midwest. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the nation, and this should be an embarrassment.  

 

Q: Why do you consider yourself the best candidate?

A: I am a true servant leader that gets things done. The Lord has used me to bring about positive changes to the third-largest pro rodeo in the state, in Dayton. 

He has also used me to help shape and mold young minds for the future in our school. He has used me to bring about growth and solutions for my fifth-generation family farm operation. 

I am young enough that I still have tremendous energy, but also at an age old enough to show a track record that is proven. My record shows that adversity does not hold me back. I can overcome challenges to get the job done right. In the rodeo world, the saying goes, “Don’t be a cowboy that is all hat and no cows.” 

I have the character, skills, humility and ambition to get the job done and to respond to the needs of our district. The worst thing I can imagine thinking at the end of my life is that I did anything only half-heartedly. If at any point I felt I was just “kicking the can down the road” at the state capitol, I will step down. 

Term limits are a constant discussion, and I can see why. If legislators are doing their job right they should run out of energy at some point and have to step down without violating their conscience. You won’t have to worry about me, eternity is far more important to me than a career in politics.

 

Todd Rasmussen

Age: 59

Residence: Boone

Family: Wife, Amy, one daughter and one son

Occupation: Rasmussen Construction

Education: Atlantic High School

Political experience: Current co-chair of Boone County Central Committee, involved in Trump Campaign, grassroots campaigning for Iowa conservatives

 

Q: Why are you running for Iowa Senate?

Rasmussen: I believe in a part-time legislature. Citizen government requires that our trustees be regular, hard-working Iowans that understand the value of hard work.

I’m a builder. I know what it takes to put food on the table for my family and I know that the best steward of our resources are the men and women who go out every day to provide for their families. 

We need to keep more money in their pockets and we need more people with that perspective setting state budgets with the hard-working taxpayer in mind. 

I want to help build a better Iowa.  

 

Q: What issues do you plan to address?

A: I am a lifelong Second Amendment advocate and we need the right to keep and bear arms in the state constitution. 

I believe in personhood, from conception to natural death. There is no compromise on the right to life. Without the natural right of life, no other rights matter.

We need vocational education back in our schools.

 

Q: Why do you consider yourself the best candidate?

A: I am not running against anybody. I am running for my community. 

The capitol should not be a country club. We need dedicated, hard-working and regular folks to be fiscal-budget hawks. Any penny spent in Des Moines comes out of a family budget.  

 

Q: Additional thoughts?

A: This pandemic has changed the nature of elections. Republicans do not like to vote by mail, but we cannot afford to sit this election out.

I will be your advocate for life, gun rights and low taxes. 

Please vote early by mail and keep your family safe this spring and summer.

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